The first results from the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) have been released. This space 'camera' has recorded 20 billion cosmic particles in the first 18 months of operation – yet that is just a small step.
The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), a seven-ton, four-metre-high particle detector installed on the International Space Station (ISS), is being used to help a team of researchers from all over the world come a step closer to solving riddles about our Universe and, by extension, our own existence. The experiment addresses questions concerning the existence of antimatter and dark matter, and could lead to ground-breaking discoveries. In this interview Stefan Schael, an experimental physicist and the German project lead for AMS, explains how the instrument is being used and the discoveries it could lead to, and shares the story of the long road leading to its launch and commissioning.
On 16 May 2011 at 08:56 EDT (14:56 CEST), Space Shuttle Endeavour lifted off from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center (Florida) on the penultimate shuttle mission (STS-134) to the International Space Station (ISS). On board are the commander Mark Kelly, pilot Gregory H. Johnson, mission specialists Michael Fincke, Greg Chamitoff, Andrew Feustel and Italian ESA astronaut Roberto Vittori.
The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) will be located outside the International Space Station (ISS) and will use its various detectors to seek cosmic radiation in space. On 29 April 2011, at 21:47 CET (19:47 UTC), the AMS will be launched on board the space shuttle Endeavour from Cape Canaveral (Florida), en route to the ISS. The project, supported by the German Aerospace Center (DLR), will involve 500 scientists from 16 countries. The main scientific target is to find evidence for the presence of dark matter and antimatter.